Events in the Life of Vannevar Bush
1890 March 11 Born to Richard Perry and Emma Linwood (Paine) Bush;
1913 Graduated Tufts College with B.S., M.S.
Worked for GE test dept.
1914-15 Worked for Inspections, U.S. Navy
Instructor of mathematics: Tufts College
1916-17 Awarded D.Eng. from both Harvard and MIT
Assistant Professor of electrical
engineering: Tufts College
1916 September 5 Married at Chelsea, MA, to Phoebe Davis
daughter of William Hathaway Davis.
1919 Returned to MIT as Assoc. Prof. of electrical
WWI Worked on submarine detection for U.S. Navy
1923 Made Prof. of elec. power transmission at MIT.
1928- Dr.Bush and team at MIT develop the "network
1930 analyzer" a system for setting up miniature
versions of large and important electrical networks.
Simultaneously, they developed a prototype of
the "differential analyzer".
1932 Appointed V.P. of MIT and Dean of the School
1935 Dr. Bush develops and patents the
"differential analyzer" at MIT.
1938 Elected President of the Carnegie Instiution
of Washington, D.C. Where he authored the
proposal to President Roosevelt entitled:
"Science: The Endless Frontier."
Dr. Bush and John H. Howard prosposed, built,
and patented the rapid selector. A machine
designed for high-speed referencing of
information stored on microfilm.
1940 Appointed Chairman of the President's National
Defense Research Committee, while retaining
his position at the Carnegie Institution.
1941- 1947 Director of the Office of
Scientific Research and Development.
(These previous two appointments made Dr. Bush a central figure in the
development of nuclear fission and the Manhattan Project.)
1939- 1941 Chairman of the National Advisory Committee
for Aeronautics (member until 1948).
(Also during this time, Dr. Bush worked as a member of the Top Policy
Group which was headed by President Roosevelt, and was Chairman of the
Military Policy Committee. These groups addressed questions of
national emergency response.)
1944 President Roosevelt asks Dr. Bush for
recommendations on the application of "lessons
learned" from WWII to civilian, peace-time
With regard to the nature of these reccomendations, President
Roosevelt requested that Dr. Bush focus on areas which could be
..."for the improvement of the national health, the creation of new
enterprises bringing new jobs, and the betterment of the national
standard of living."
Dr. Bush wrote:
"It is my judgment that the national interest in scientific
research and scientific education can best be promoted by the
creation of a National Research Foundation."
-Science the Endless Frontier, PP.28 Sec. "Pure Research"
1945 Dr. Bush submits "Science, the Endless
Frontier" in response to Roosevelt's request.
It was this proposal which set off events
leading to the development of the National
1945 Dr. Bush proposes the Memex in his
quintessential article, "As We May Think".
1946 July Dr. Bush appointed Chairman of the Joint
Research and Development Board of the War
and Navy Departments.
1947 September- Appointed Chariman of the Development Board of
1948 October 15 the National Military Establishment.
1947 Appointed as a director of AT&T
1948 Appointed as a director of Merck and Co.
1950 Establishment of the National Science
Foundation under the direction of Dr. Bush
1953 - 1955 Dr. Bush maintains membership on the
National Science Foundation Advisory
1957 - 1959 Chairman of the MIT Corporation.
1959 - 1971 Honorary Chairman of the MIT
1922 "Priciples of Electrical Engineering"
1929 "Operational Circuit Analysis"
1945 July "As We May Think", Atlantic Monthly.
1946 Endless Horizons, a collection of papers and
1949 "Modern Arms and Free Men", a discussion of
the role of scidnece in preserving democratic
1967 "Science Is Not Enough", essays by Vannevar
1970 "Pieces of the Action", an examination of
science and the state.
Awards and Honors:
1928 Louis Edward Levy Medal of the Franklin
Institute for work on analyzing devices.
1935 Lamme Medal of the American Institute of
Electrical Engineers for "his development of
methods and devices for applications of
mathematical analysis to problems of
1939 Research Corporation award form Columbia
1941 Ballou Medal form Tufts College.
1943 Holley Medal of the American Society of
1945 Gold Medal of the National Institute of of
Social Sciences for distinguished service to
humanity, the Roosevelt Memorial Association's
Distinguished Service Medal, and the Marcellus
Hartley Public Welfare Medal of the National
Academy of Sciences.
1946 The Washington Award presented by the Western
Socciety of Engineers
1947 June The Distinguished Service Medal of Tufts
College, and the Hoover Medal for 1946 awarded
by the American Institute of Engineers, the
American Society of Civel Engineers, the
American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical
Engineers, and the American Society of
1948 February 11 Dubbed Knight Commander of the civilian
division of the Most Excellent Order of the
May 27 Medal of Merit with bronze oak leaf cluster
presented by President Truman at the White
1949 February Medal of the Industrial Research Institute,
Inc. presented by President Truman at the
1964 January 13 National Medal of Science presented by
President L. B. Johnson.
Honorary Degrees (Sc.D.s):
Tufts College, Brown University, Middlebury College, Johns Hopkins
University, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Polytechnic
Institute of Brooklyn, Stevens Institute of Technololgy, Williams
College, Rutgers College, Washington University, Trinity College,
Universtiy of Buffalo, West Virginia University, Columbia University,
Princeton Universtiy, the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and
"The pioneer spirit is still vigorous within this nation. Science offers
a largely unexplored hinterland for the pioneer who has the tools for
his task. The rewards of such exploration both for the Nation and the
individual are great. Scientific progress is one essential key to our
security as a nation, to our better health, to more jobs, to higher
standard of living, and to our cultural progress."
-V.B. July 5th, 1945 as director of the Office of Scientific Research
and Development in his letter of response to President RooseveltÕs
letter requesting his recommendations as noted above in
the professional timeline.
"All my life, which has now lasted something under one hundred
years, I have observed managers in action: in government, in
universities, , and in industry, and I have puzzled over what made
them tick. I am far form the end of that puzzle, for no man can ever
fully understand another, even a close friend. But can we probe a bit
toward the essence of the good, the great, managers."
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